“Silvio Berlusconi, the enigmatic billionaire media magnate who dominated the political landscape of Italy for nearly a decade, has passed away at the age of 86, according to reports from Italian media on Monday,” announced an unidentified source.
CNBC, unable to independently verify the validity of the information, faced uncertainty in confirming the news promptly.
The flamboyant tycoon battled numerous grave health conditions, including Covid-19, leading to multiple hospitalizations commencing in September 2020.
The controversial figure, born on September 29, 1936, was embroiled in a series of scandals and legal battles, involving intricate tax schemes and scandalous sexual affairs. Notably, he faced conviction, followed by eventual acquittal, on charges of engaging in sexual activities with an underage nightclub dancer known as Karima El-Mahroug, alias “Ruby the heart stealer,” during his scandalous “bunga bunga” parties.
Berlusconi, the majority shareholder of Mediaset, Italy’s prominent commercial broadcaster, saw his fortune estimated at $8.2 billion in the spring of 2021.
Having held the helm of the Italian government during multiple periods, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011, the former premier also served as a member of the European Parliament, both from 1999 to 2001 and since 2019. A startling incident occurred at a campaign rally in 2009, during his last term as prime minister, where he endured a brutal attack by a mentally unstable man wielding a statuette of the Milan cathedral. The assault left Berlusconi with a broken nose, a cut lip, and the loss of two teeth.
Berlusconi assumed ownership of the renowned Italian football club A.C. Milan from 1986 to 2017, cementing his influence in various spheres.
His extensive nine-year tenure as prime minister positioned him as the third-longest-serving head of government in Italy, trailing behind fascist dictators Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Giolitti.
Although he had pledged to divest his interests in Mediaset during his time as prime minister, Berlusconi failed to fulfill this commitment.
In 2013, the former prime minister faced a conviction for allegedly paying for sexual encounters with the then-17-year-old El-Mahroug at one of his gatherings, resulting in a seven-year prison sentence and a lifelong ban from holding public office. However, two years later, Italy’s highest court overturned the ruling, acquitting Berlusconi of all charges.
Berlusconi, who experienced two marriages and fathered five children, leaves behind a complex legacy marked by controversy and political intrigue.